Breweries reflect on a year of the pandemic as business picks up

Mackenzie Davis
Updated: April 07, 2021 05:23 PM
Created: April 07, 2021 05:11 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Wednesday is National Beer Day and some small-town breweries in southeastern Minnesota are reflecting on how the pandemic affected them, but it's not all in a negative way.

It's a simple thing, a cold glass of beer.

A new report from the Univerity of Minnesota shows how one of Minnesota's fastest-growing industries lost money every time they poured one, thanks to COVID-19.

Craft breweries lost nearly $200 million last year.

PawPrint Brewery in Chatfield opened its doors in January right before the pandemic but still managed to stay open.

"With the support of the community and people coming in and checking us out, even during that time of being shut down," James Kenison, owner of PawPrint Brewery, said.

He adapted by doing to-go orders with his beer.

"That's what helped us keep our doors open, kept the beer flowing," Kenison said.

It was similar with Trout City Brewing in Preston. It stayed open with to-go growlers and food.

"The city of Preston is a wonderful, supportive avenue for us," Andy Bisek, co-owner of Trout City Brewing, said. 

With the help of other local businesses, they were all in it together.

"That's one thing about working with other small businesses. We all work together to try to survive," Bisek said.

The whole supply chain was affected.

Civil Sass Hops in Chatfield provides hops to local breweries, including PawPrint Brewery and Trout City Brewing.

"We are a supporting industry. How much beer that our local breweries are brewing directly impacts how much product we are providing to our brewers," Abbey Sass, co-owner of Civil Sass Hops, said.

Civil Sass found a way to be flexible with its brewers.

"If they're having an issue and people aren't coming through the door, we can't just expect them to keep buying hops if they can't put it in their kettles," Jake Sass, co-owner of Civil Sass Hops, said.

Jake and Abbey Sass say if a brewery is doing well, Civil Sass will ultimately do well.

"I think that brewers relied so much on everyone to come into the doors still and go ahead and continue to support through that and I think that that attitude is contagious," Abbey Sass said.

Making beer is a team effort. Drinking it? That's a different story.

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